SERIESFEST ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF THE SEASON 5 INDEPENDENT PILOT COMPETITION & AWARDS RECIPIENTS
Honors Awarded in Categories for ‘Digital Short Series,’ ‘Independent Dramatic Pilot,’ ‘Independent Comedic Pilot’ and ‘Late Night’ Recipients of ‘Storytellers Initiative’ in Partnership with Elysium Bandini Studios, ‘Jan Marino Scholarship’ in Partnership with Stephens College M.F.A. and ‘Women Directing Mentorship’ in Partnership with Shondaland and ‘International Innovator’ in Partnership with Liberty Global Revealed!
Randi Kleiner (CEO, SeriesFest) and Kaily Smith Westbrook (CCO, SeriesFest)
SeriesFest, the award-winning international television festival and non-profit organization dedicated to showcasing the best and boldest emerging voices in television, revealed the winners of this year’s independent pilot competition at a closing reception of the six-day festival at The Cable Center in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, June 25th. Esteemed jurors screened 53 pilots from around the globe at the Sie FilmCenter, the year-round cinematic home of Denver Film, and selected 15 winners in various categories including “Best Independent Pilot,” “Best Digital Short,” “Audience Award” and a “Fullscreen Select Award.”This year’s pilots showcased an unprecedented level of storytelling,” commented Randi Kleiner and Kaily Smith Westbrook, founders, SeriesFest. “We are in awe and inspired by all of the work.
Thank you to the jurors for their time and commitment to supporting independent series and we’re excited to see what’s next for these creators and actors.”
A leader in independent development, SeriesFest has been the launching pad for over a dozen independent projects that later secured mainstream distribution. Most recently, the winner of four awards at SeriesFest: Season 3, Up North, received a greenlight for eight episodes from Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios. Creator, Emil Pinnock, also signed a blind script deal with Blumhouse Television and has been tapped to pen an untitled Daymond John project.
Over the six-day festival, the recipients of three annual initiatives, “Storytellers,” “Jan Marino Scholarship” and “Women Directing Mentorship,” as well as an inaugural “International Innovator” award were also revealed.
Just ahead of the “Shondaland 2.0” panel over the weekend with Akua Murphy, Anna Deavere Smith, Katie Lowes, and Alison Eakle, director Rachel Myers (Wendy’s Shabbat) was announced as the recipient of the “Women Directing Mentorship.” Rachel will shadow a director for an episode of a Shondaland original series and a $5,000 stipend to use during the duration of their mentorship.
SeriesFest announced Mary Robbins as the recipient of the Jan Marino Scholarship, designed to support women over 55 who are students in the Stephens College M.F.A. in Television and Screenwriting program. Named to honor author Jan Marino, the mother of M.F.A. student and SeriesFest Board Co-Chair Betsy Marino Leighton, the scholarship nurtures the power of strong, independent female storytelling in television and film; and Liberty Global and SeriesFest presented the inaugural ‘International Innovator’ award to Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, creator of ‘Fundamental,’ alongside Global Fund for Women. A lively discussion with Global Fund for Women and the Biennial of Americas followed a screening of Obaid-Chinoy’s film series, focused on “Women’s Rights. No Exception.”
At the closing ceremony, SeriesFest, in partnership with Elysium Bandini Studios, announced that the Storytellers Initiative, a program created to discover original episodic writers, was awarded to Amanda Dreschler & Michael Livingston from the pilot project, Forgive Us Father. This season’s Storytellers Initiative focused on the opportunity to explore short-form series (running less than 15 minutes in length) with a strong point of view and bold characters. Amanda and Michael received an exclusive first-look development deal with Elysium Bandini Studios, a professionally produced pilot presentation valued at $60,000, and were flown to Denver for Season 5 of SeriesFest (June 21—26) to participate in a Storytellers Initiative live read on closing night.
SeriesFest: Season 5 is presented with generous support from sponsors including Denver Film Society, Liberty Global, Once Upon a Time Productions, Xfinity, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Fries Foundation, Coca-Cola, i-Heart Media, and JEEP.
WINNERS – INDEPENDENT PILOT – DRAMA
Jury: Peter Mensah (Actor), Chaka Pilgrim (President, Roc Nation Record), and Jack Turner
Best Pilot: Currency
Creators: Scott Gabriel & Sofi Marshall Producers: Caroline Olkowski, Scott Gabriel Director: Scott Gabriel Writers: Scott Gabriel & Sofi Marshall Cast: Jay Santiago, Angelic Zambrana, Danny Gavigan, Matthew Weitz Seventeen days ago, bank accounts across America froze. CURRENCY takes place in a small town after all banking, credit, and electronic monetary records disappear in a cascading malfunction dubbed the “Green Out.” Paychecks haven’t gone out, credit cards have been offline, and supply chains have stalled. People only have the food in their homes, the cash in their pockets, and the fading faith that their money will ever come back. The world is holding its breath. Cuban immigrant family runs the town’s gas station and realizes that they have the two things everyone needs as the country is plunged into crisis: food and gasoline. When cash runs out and electric utilities, telecom, and factories begin to go offline, they find themselves torn about what to do with their newfound “wealth” in a world where the concept of currency is rapidly fading. CURRENCY tracks the intersection of a blue-collar immigrant’s rise to power as a self-appointed small-town dictator, and his partner, a now-penniless business executive, has to choose between saving himself or his town. Conceived in collaboration with a world-class economist, CURRENCY is a reminder that most of what we put our faith in – money, governments, and laws – only has power if we believe in it. And when that faith gets shaken, the American way of life trembles. TRAILERJury Statement: What was most impressive to the jury in Currency, was the ability to effectively demonstrate strength of story as well as the intimacy and depth of character that is indicative of all great television, all with very little resources.Best Director: Julien Lasseur, Palomino & SwissyBest Writer: Brian Groh, Palomino & SwissyBest Actress: Naomi Ko, NiceBest Actor: Jay Santiago, Currency
| WINNERS – INDEPENDENT PILOT – COMEDY Jury: Nina Dobrev (Actress/Producer), Sean Walsh (Manager, Strategy, ABC Entertainment),|
and David Rubin (Agent, Gersh)
Best Pilot: Brooklyn Moving Company
Creators: Ryan Harrington, Isaac HimmelmanProducers: Krysia Plonka, Tracey Baird, Gene Hess, Nick Collins, Jessie Ruane, Molly Ryan Director: Krysia Plonka Writers: Ryan Harrington, Isaac Himmelman, Brendan Ryan Cast: Ryan Harrington, Isaac Himmelman, Jessie Ruane, Brendan Ryan, Wayne Mackins, Rob Ventre, Kym Zlogar, Mac Edgerly, Molly Ryan, Scott Swayze, Oona Dolven, Ben Maters,
Best Director: Laura Moss, NeuroticaBest Writer: Jake Delaney, Cara Fano, Paige Hoffman, The FilthBest Actress: Lauren Aboulafia, BrokerBest Actor: Omar Maskati, Revenge Tour
WINNER – MULTI-HYPHENATE
Jury: Nina Dobrev (Actress/Producer), Sean Walsh (Manager, Strategy, ABC Entertainment), and David Rubin (Agent, Gersh)Multi-Hyphenate Award: Ruthie Marantz, Actor-Writer-Director, Rainbow Ruthie
Meet Ruthie. She’s 35. She’s a former teen star of Manhattan Public Access TV. She’s grieving the death of her father. And she’s a hot mess. After a bad night out, Ruthie re-watches her public access show, “Rainbow Ruthie,” that she has kept locked away (physically and emotionally) for the past twenty years. With the help of her roommates, Ayumi and Parker, she discovers her ex-nemesis, Mira, is now an extremely popular (and extremely nauseating) social media star. When Ruthie posts a reaction video in an attempt to kick Mira out of the spotlight, the video goes viral. And suddenly, after a two-decade hiatus, Rainbow Ruthie is back where she belongs. Equal parts biting and nostalgic, Rainbow Ruthie is a comedy about re-finding your truth in the age of social media.TRAILERJury Statement: In a time before Instagram, social media, or even DVDs “Rainbow” Ruthie Marantz was writing, directing, and starring in her own brand of content. She was making stories before “stories” existed…on VHS. Years later, her continued mastery of writing and directing combined with onscreen performance continues to resonate and impress. A natural multi-hyphenate from a very young age, Ruthie shows us the courage, vulnerability, and strength that it takes to willingly give yourself over to a captive audience, and we continue to be impressed and captivated. This is why we wanted to create a new category honoring creators who wear multiple hats. Ruthie was a natural selection for this role, having fearless creative control over nearly every element of her productions from a young age up to today. We can’t wait to see more from her, and we are excited to give her this special recognition.
AUDIENCE AWARD WINNER – INDEPENDENT PILOT